New staff interview - Clara
2 Oct 2017, Sarasota, Fl
Interview with Clara Christofferson, 21, who has joined our staff team here at YWAM Sarasota!
Welcome! Though I mean you’ve already been here for about a month. Can you tell us some of the things that have already had time to happen?
Well, there was the grand adventure of Hurricane Irma. Irma ate two weeks of that time, basically. Because either we ran and hid from her or we cleaned up after her. But I've also been helping out with the worship team, I’ve been getting started with the media team, and we're planning some nice projects. I'm on the planning committee for the rowing outreach, for the world rowing championships that happen very soon and we are distributing a brochure about it so I'm helping with that process. There’s also been the staff days, and the partnership development course.
Considering you've been here a month, Irma ate two weeks, the partnership development is one week, the staff days one week, and you've done all the other things, has there been one normal week?
The first week I was here was semi-normal, but it still wasn't normal for me because it was my first week! So it's been interesting.
That's crazy! And how did you first hear about YWAM Sarasota?
Well I knew I was in a preparation season in life, and I wanted to do some discipleship type thing that was also somehow practical. And through a friend my sister found out about this photography YWAM thing in Germany. She told me about it and I thought photography, haha. German,y haha. Because photography is not my main art form, and I wasn’t ready to live overseas. So still I looked it up, and while doing that I discovered MOTA. It sounded interesting. And then I think I was looking at the start dates and saw September; Germany, and then January; Florida. And I thought Hm Florida. I can do Florida. I mean I've been to Florida once. So that’s how I found YWAM Sarasota. But it was this long confusing trail to get there. I didn’t know anyone there, I had no connections, no one in my life telling my to do YWAM, it was just this thing God put in my heart to do. So from the beginning it really was a journey with just me and God.
But it wasn’t this clear word or anything, it was more like a steadiness?
I think that when I found the MOTA, that really resonated with me. Because I’m a creator, and I love creating, and I never thought that my art had a place in missions. So that sparked something in me. I think I’ve known I’m supposed to be in missions since the end of high school and the fact that YWAM Sarasota focused on the 10/40 window was confirmation for me, plus having such a strong focus on art. I didn’t really necessary feel like God was like go, do this thing, here, but it was the next logical step to following what I knew God was saying.
I think I applied in May for the January DTS. So I applied, I was accepted, and I started to fundraise. And then I came here and kind of said two things in my heart. I don’t know if I legit prayed them or just sort of said them to myself, but I was like okay I’m not staying here and I’m not meeting someone here. And I think God was like hahah, you’re funny. Because both of those things happened.
So did God just change your plans?
I mean, I was arrogant to think I knew better than God. I thought if God doesn’t say anything else I’m going back to school after this. But I didn’t really expect that he could talk to me, or that he could say anything else. I had no reason to move far away from my family. I was just going on this adventure and then moving back to Texas and live happily ever after for all I knew.
So was there big flashing letters saying "STAY"?
No, it wasn’t anything big and flashy. I think my whole life, my whole journey with God, has never been big and flashy, it’s been small, simple obediences to the quiet voice of God. So God began to ask me during DTS; okay, so, you say you want to follow my will for your life, but you have said in your heart that you’re going home after this. What if I want you to stay here. What if I don’t have for you to go home. Are you willing to be abandoned to my will? So I had to really come to a place of brokenness before the Lord and say okay, I’m willing to go wherever you call me. And that’s when I wrote a song in DTS called Joyful Abandonment, from struggle and breakthrough to the point of joyful abandonment to God’s will for my life. It's not like God wouldn’t have loved me anymore if I stayed home, but that wasn’t his best for my life. There’s so much joy in abandoning myself to his best.
So then, after that, God started to very quietly speak things to me. But it was always questions, it was never like you must. He wanted to know what I thought, what my heart was.
And I had the realization that there’s a place for me, here, as a creator and an artist, and a missionary. So my decision went along with that.
And now you’re going to Japan? Why Japan?
So we had staff days, which is staff gathering time. And during that time we all pitched in and raised money to be able to send a staff person to go on outreach. Because we really want people to go – and often money is the issue – so this way we could pay for someone's plane ticket and send someone out. And I thought that’s great, I’ll put some money in, but I didn’t really pray about putting my name in. But then last minute I put my name in, more like ‘God, if you really want me to go then you have to pick my name, but otherwise don’t.' I didn’t even really think a lot about it. Then they were going to draw. And right before I had this moment of oh crap they’re going to pick my name. And then Ruth picked, and she said Clara.
It was just so funny of God, cause I would not have considered going on outreach. I don't feel super established in the support I have coming in, so I was more focused on getting through each month financially. And I knew other people wanted to go more than me, so I thought probably they’ll go. But God was like... did you ask me? And suddenly I had all this money with a deadline to buy a plane ticket, and I thought what have I done. And everyone was like “congratulations, where are you going, so exciting”, and I was like ahh, I’m gonna take a walk, alone on the beach, now. Not that I didn't want to go on outreach, but it was just so much to process. So much of my life has been God showing me he has bigger dreams for me than I have for myself. It's scary, but his dreams are so much better!
So then I started praying about what country to choose, and Japan was not something I had thought about, but then it showed up in my mind and everything fell into place. Japan is in the 10/40 window, and they’re so westernized but still so unreached. And a lot of the big struggles in Japan that people go through are things I have a heart for. I also think this trip to Japan will be a lot of discovering more how to use arts with missions, and see what actually works. I'm excited to see what will happen!
That’s awesome. I really look forward to hearing all the stories. From that, and also during the whole time you’re gonna be here at YWAM Sarasota. (welcome home)